FDA is committed to ensuring the safety of food and beverages consumed by Americans and providing timely and factual information when safety questions are raised. We are issuing this statement today to better describe the steps FDA is taking in response to reports that benzene has been found in some soft drinks.
Benzene, a carcinogen, is found in the environment from natural and man-made sources. In November 2005, FDA received reports that benzene had been detected at low levels in some soft drinks containing benzoate salts (an antimicrobial agent) and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), particularly under certain conditions of storage, shelf life and handling.
FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) initiated a survey of benzene levels in soft drinks following receipt of the November 2005 reports. This survey indicates that the vast majority of beverages sampled (including those containing both benzoate salts and ascorbic acid) contain either no detectable benzene levels or are well below the 5 parts per billion (ppb) U.S. water standard. The results of this survey, which will be released in the near future, indicate that the levels of benzene in these beverages do not pose a safety concern.